It is nearly that time of year again. When we put on a hat and gardening gloves, and step outside to bask in the sun and play in the dirt. Gardening has always been an interesting piece of my life, when I was a child I would cry if I had dirty hands and gloves were not my favorite fashion accessory. So when I moved to Erie I knew I HAD to learn how to get over the dirt phobia and grow all the beautiful flowers and produce that I dreamed that I could. So I have come up with a few tips that I have learned through trial, error and a little education.
Top 8 Gardening Tips:
1. Plan ahead. Determine how much space you have and where it is, preferably sunny and free from any kid or pet disturbances. Plan what you want to plant, draw a picture to help get an idea of where things will fit and how. Don’t forget to include the different planting stages early spring, late spring, early summer, late summer and fall.
2. While planning, think about going for quality not quantity. This was the hardest lesson for me to learn. My first year, although I did plan for space, I did not know how much each plant would produce. As a result, I had more tomatoes than I could eat or give away, and not nearly enough of some of the other items, such as cucumbers because the quality of the plants were not as good as they could have been. Quality plants can be a little pricier but they will deliver quality produce.
3. Plant complementary plants to help your garden be its best. This may be to help each plant grow better or maybe help repel pests. We all have complementary friends so your plants should too!
4. Think outside the box! Not every garden has to be in perfect rows. If you are short on space think about taking it vertical or use some different types of containers and the results will amaze you.
5. Work with your soil. Poor soil quality will damage your best efforts. There are many things you can do to help, but the first step should be testing a soils pH. Kits are available online or even at your local home improvement store.
6. Recycle your waste to help give your garden a little miracle encouragement. Composting is a great way to go. In my experience composting can be as complicated or as simple as you make it. I believe that if something is simple you are more likely to do it so start there and then progress if you want. If composting isn’t your thing, you could always just do a few things such as adding coffee grounds and egg shells. They both have great properties for nutrition as well as pest deterrence.
7. Pest… Well as a girl from the city, one of the hardest things for me has been dealing with pests. My husband jokes that we spend a lot of time and effort to make the pests disappear for me. However, in gardening there are good pests that are certainly required! So my tip is supply your garden with the good and helpful pests like ladybugs, lacewigs and ground beetles that will feast on the aphids, slugs and mites that make a sad garden. If you find a praying mantis in your garden, it will also help with keeping those pesky pests away. Lastly, don’t forget about those great earthworms for mixing up the soil. Either way lesson learned for me that not all bugs are bad!
8. Have fun!!! The most important tip that there is about gardening. Even if you can’t follow any of the other tips mentioned, just get out there and just do it! The health benefits go way beyond that great floral display or produce harvest! Gardening is a great form of physical activity, it boosts mood and helps reduce stress. It is also a great hobby to do with the kids.